Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On that Fake Koran Quote, "if anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind," Part 1

"If anyone slew a person..."

After each horrific Muslim terrorist attack, apologists for Islam - Muslim and non-Muslim - can be counted on to trot out this alleged excerpt from the Koran:
If anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.
It sounds like a lovely piece of mystical Eastern wisdom, doesn't it? The problem is, the alleged excerpt doesn't appear in the Koran in precisely that form, and the context in which it does appear might surprise you.

First, a bit of background. Some imagine that the Koran systematically lays out a coherent ethical system. It does not. That's not a criticism per se - the New Testament is also not systematic in that sense - but it is important to note. Often critics of Islam are accused of taking the nasty sounding bits of the Koran out of context. But it is actually the apologists that almost always do this, and almost always for a non-Muslim audience that is largely unfamiliar with the Koran.

The alleged quote comes from Verse 32, Sura (or Chapter) 5 of the Koran - whose title is variously translated as "The Food," "The Repast," "The Dinner Table" and so on. There are two themes to the sura. The first is a fairly detailed exposition on what is and what is not permitted for a Muslim regarding food and the killing of animals.

But the bulk of it is on relations between Muslims and various non-Muslims groups - Jews, Christians, Polytheists and Pagans. The sura is almost uniformly hostile - in places aggressively and violently so - towards non-Muslims, which makes it all the more notable that apologists use one of its verses to argue that "Islam is a religion of peace." 

To recap, the excerpt allegedly says:
If anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity. 
But what does 5:32 actually say? 
On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person - unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. 
(I have highlighted the parts that aren't usually cited).
The context is a discussion of a somewhat embellished version of the story of Cain and Abel - the murder of Abel is the precise slaying in question - which began six verses earlier. The context of that is a sort of list of various occasions where the Jews did bad things. 

Thus, the context is actually yet another Koranic attack (of which there are literally hundreds) on those perfidious Jews. Allah originally ordained the rule in question for "the Children of Israel" and (as the previous verses make clear) they disobeyed him. Typical Jews.

Many commentators also view it as a warning to contemporary Jews.

Of course, even if the moral rule is meant to apply generally (which a number of other verses arguably contradict), the real verse contains an exception that you could drive a truck bomb through - or for spreading mischief in the land.

To underline the point, here is the very next verse (5:33):
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
That's right, the very next verse after "if anyone slew a person..." is a prescription for carrying out ISIS-style punishments on those who - as traditionally interpreted by Muslim scholars - resist or oppose the spread of Islam.

The rest of Sura 5 contains a number of other interesting verses, which strangely you never hear about alongside 5:32. For example, Verse 51:
O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors.
Another verse tells us that Allah punished some of the Jews by turning them into apes and pigs (5:60).

As if to rub it in, another verse tells us that Christians aren't as bad as Jews. It's the Jews and Pagans who are the worst. (Presumably when this late sura was released, Muhammed was strategically trying to cozy up to some Christian tribe.)
Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant (5:82).
Tucked into the anti-infidel stuff is a command to cut off the hands of thieves (5:38). Then we're back to rules about eating and the killing of animals interspersed with a few additional pokes against Christians for thinking Jesus was God.

Sura 5 and specifically Verse 33 
was among the primary texts used by Muhammed to justify (before and after the fact) the assassination of opponents - the satirical poetess Asma Bint Marwan was impaled with a sword as she was nursing her child - and his aggressive military campaigns on the Arabian peninsula to conquer or wipe out all non-Muslims - such as for example, the Jews of Khaybar.

That apologists use a bowdlerized version of 5:32 for their "Religion of Peace" claim is ironic.

Ironic in a sick way. 

As some readers may already been aware, the "as if they had killed there whole world" idea isn't exactly original with Muhammad. He got it from somewhere else. I'll look at that in Part 2.


  1. I first heard that one at a death penalty defense seminar, described as a Jewish proverb: "He who saves one life saves the whole world."

  2. A kind and gentle Mohammed story: Once he cut the sleeve off his coat because the cat was sleeping on it and he did not wish to disturb its slumber.

  3. Against all those who profess muslims and Catholics worship the same God; that allah is just another of His names, the reality is they are each other's precise opposite.

    Perhaps the most important difference is their fundamental nature:

    Our God's nature is constant since He IS Truth.

    "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." John 17:17

    allah's nature is unpredictable, capricious, arbitrary; the Father of Lies:

    "Allah was deceptive for Allah is the best of deceivers." (S. 3:54; cf. 8:30)

    muslims view deception and lying as a feature, not a bug. It is simply an essential element of their faith. It is who they are, because it is an essential feature of who they worship.

    True ecumenism depends on giving our partner the respect of underatanding their god as they do. He is a liar; indeed he is the Father of Lies. Inscrutable. Unknowable. I do not think they would dispute this.

  4. All the same 1 God?? The Bible clearly says Yahweh is 1 God in 3 persons
    1 John 5:7
    For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and THESE THREE ARE ONE.

    The prophet said Allah the moon-god was the only god right?
    Why does the quran mentions the 3 pagan star goddesses of Allah and his sun goddess consort, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat?
    They can be found mentioned by name in quran 53:19-23&26 and the prophet said they have intersessory power to Allah for you.

    So the prophet was poly-thiestic, MANY gods, in the quran. Did anyone know that? Unless you want to say the quran has been tampered with and the prophet didn't say that. Either way Islam is false.